The firm was created by Daniel B. Zwirn and Canadian investment company Westaim Corporation in 2015. Westaim also established and capitalized Arena Finance Company to buy and originate commercial and real estate loans. The firm’s name derives from the "Man in the arena" passage from the 1910 speech Citizenship in a Republic by Theodore Roosevelt.
In March of 2017, Arena co-led an investment group that funded the acquisition of AC Milan, in which the firm continues to hold a 4% ownership position. In late 2017, Arena led the investment group providing $50 million to FilmRise, the indie film and TV distributor. According to Westaim’s 2017 report to shareholders, Arena’s AUM “finished the year at $760 million, up from $380 million a year ago”.
In September 2018, FirePower Capital entered into a joint venture with Arena Investors to offer FirePower Capital's debt financing product to entrepreneurs in Canada. In 2018, Bloomberg News reported that Arena “manages about $1 billion in investments.”
In June 2018, Horizon Technology Finance created a joint venture with Arena Investors to create Horizon Secured Loan Fund I LLC (HSLF) which is controlled and owned equally between the two. In 2019, Arena Investors won the Direct Lending Fund category award at the 2019 Alt Credit US Performance Awards.
Daniel B. Zwirn serves as the CEO and CIO. He is a regular guest on Bloomberg Markets and Bloomberg Daybreak: Europe among others. From 2001 through mid-2009, Zwirn founded and managed D.B. Zwirn & Co., of which he was Managing Partner and CIO. Through its operations, DBZ managed up to $6 billion of assets.J. Cameron MacDonald, CEO of The Westaim Corporation (TSXV: WED), based in Toronto, serves as the firm’s Chairman.
In 2018, Arena recruited Parag Shah. According to The Wall Street Journal, Shah served 15 years assisting Bridgewater Associates in its fundraising.